Posted: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 8:25 AM
The Associated Press
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- Prosecutors have filed animal cruelty charges against the owner and seven employees at a Southern California livestock auction house after undercover video shot by an animal rights group showed workers kicking, hitting and tossing the animals as they were readied for sale.
The grainy video, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press and shot by the Los Angeles-based group Mercy for Animals, shows workers at Ontario Livestock Sales in Ontario, Calif., kicking and stomping on pigs to get them to move through a narrow chute, hitting emus with a baton and slinging baby goats by the neck and hind legs. In one shot, two workers drag a sick sheep that can't walk by its ears and heave it into the back of a van.
Prosecutors have filed a total of 21 misdemeanor counts against the owner, Horacio Santorsola, and seven employees after conducting further investigation with the help of the Inland Valley Humane Society, said Reza Daghbandan, a prosecutor with the San Bernardino County district attorney's office.
The defendants, who are not in custody, have a July 20 court date and face a maximum of a year in county jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted, he said.
Santorsola, 73, said the case was exaggerated and he and his employees had done nothing wrong.
He has not been cited once in the 18 years he's owned the business, he said, and grabbing animals by their necks and legs is necessary because they are not tame.
"I think it's a bunch of crap," Santorsola said. "How are you going to pick them up? They don't have a leash. They run, believe me, they do run."
The video was taken earlier this year over a seven-week period by an undercover investigator using a buttonhole camera, said Matt Rice, director of investigations at Mercy for Animals.
Prosecutors relied on the help of veterinarians to determine which actions crossed the line into criminal behavior, Daghbandan said.
"This isn't the same standard of care as a house pet would get ... but we felt comfortable that these instances went too far," he said.
Animal handling experts who reviewed the footage called the treatment of the animals, which include emus, pigs, goats, sheep and cows, "brutally improper."
"If they were to do this to a companion animal like a dog or a cat, everyone would jump up in outrage," said Holly Cheever, a veterinarian and expert witness in animal cruelty cases who is also vice president of New York State Humane Association.
Cheever said in one shot, a cow appears to be suffering from a prolapsed uterus and is bleeding.
"Even food animals are supposed to be given proper care and protection from abuse and this is very clear cut abuse," she said. "The dragging of the downed animals, the tossing of the baby animals onto the floor, leaving them gasping and dying: It's hard to choose any one aspect because it's pretty unpleasant from beginning to end."
A website for Ontario Livestock Sales says the family-owned business 40 miles east of Los Angeles holds auctions every Tuesday and handles horses, cattle, goats, hogs and exotic animals. The facility, which was founded in 1936, sells 1,000 to 1,300 animals every week, according to its website.
Mercy for Animals has filmed at livestock facilities around the U.S., including footage at a poultry farm that last year led Target and McDonald's to drop their egg supplier after undercover footage showed hens packed into cramped cages, male chicks being tossed into plastic bags to suffocate and workers cutting off the tips of chicks' beaks.
Posted By: Robert Cohen On: 6/1/2012
Title: Auction House Video
Where Fear & Terror Rule & are Not the Exception
"Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil."
Are cows and pigs and chickens usually tortured on the farms at which they are raised? Absolutely not! Such undercover videos are horrific to watch, but are the exception and not the rule. Unhappy cows do not produce as much milk as happy cows.
Are farmed animals abused and tortured once they get to slaughter? Absolutely not, unless you call 'slicing an animal's throat after stunning it with a bolt to the head' torture. In most cases of actual slaughter, the act of death is delivered in a manner in which the animal does not suffer fear and terror.
Efficient slaughter translates into profit for the owners of slaughterhouse operations. People such as Temple Grandin have worked to change the entire slaughterhouse standard operating procedures to make the slaughter process more compassionate for animals. Forgive me for admitting this truth, but by designing ramps without dark shadows, and then re-designing ramps to go downhill rather than uphill, much of the fear suffered by animals prior to the killing act disappears. See:
Yet, in between life on the farm, and death in the slaughterhouse, the animals fated to die are first transported to auction houses, and this is where they suffer the greatest fears and abuses.
This new 2-minute undercover video will be difficult to watch, but such experience for an animal is the rule and not the exception. If you do not yet eat a plant-based diet, this short film might become the trigger that changes your life. If it is not, consider that with each mouthful of cow or pig or chicken you eat, you then swallow, and digest their pain and fear.
Many years after many such meals, you will suffer equivalent fear and pain upon receiving the diagnosis of your life-ending illness due to a lifetime of consuming the wrong foods. It is only then, after your stroke, or heart attack, or cancer, that your doctor will prescribe a vegan diet. In another generation, doctors will be wise enough to prescribe such diets before the disease.
At that time of your greatest phobos and deimos, you will ask God for help. Don't waste your time. You have broken his first commandment:
"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat."
- Genesis 1:29
Why do I call the fear and terror and pain and torture at animal auctions the "rule" and not the exception? In the May 30, 2012 column in Capital Press (the West's Ag Website), the owner of the auction house defends the actions of his employees. The article reports:
"He has not been cited once in the 18 years he's owned the business, he said, and grabbing animals by their necks and legs is necessary because they are not tame. 'I think it's a bunch of crap,' Santorsola said. 'How are you going to pick them up? They don't have a leash. They run, believe me, they do run.'"
Tell that to the judge in your July 20th court date, Mr. Santosorla, for the undercover video does not lie.
"There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts."
- Mahatma Gandhi